Important to understand: Illness is a big deal in any home, in that it disrupts life and just makes you feel yucky, but it is an especially big deal at our house. First, there's Collin's care: there are no breaks. I can't just ask a friend to watch Collin for the afternoon while I recover. Between the g-tube feeding and the ketogenic diet and the countless little things that you don't even think about when you do it every day, it takes a highly trained person to care for Collin. Outside of me and Kyle, there are maybe 3 people who could do it (a big improvement, actually!). Second, there's the fact that an illness to Collin has the potential to become something much more than just a little cold or tummy bug. With his low tone, he can't 'manage his secretions' as the doctors and therapists say, or cough enough to keep his lungs clear. His Nissen wrap prevents him from throwing up and when he tries, he can't catch his breath (see our hospital stay this past January). Pain, discomfort, and sickness mess with ketones and compromise his seizure threshold. No matter what the virus, it's not a road we want to go down.
Also good to know: My germ paranoia was born in the NICU of our children's hospital. The second day of Collin's first hospital stay, a nurse gestured around the room at all of the babies with their tubes and their boxes and their hollow-eyed parents and said, "If you came in here with RSV on your hands, you could kill any baby in this room." She then went on to explain that I would never be able to know if I was carrying RSV - I may have cold symptoms or no symptoms at all. Great advice for a scared and anxious new mother.
I guess this particular episode started with overdoing it around the Thanksgiving holiday: too much unnecessary stress and work, too many fun things I should have said no to, too little sleep. So I ended up coming down with a respiratory virus of some sort on the day after Thanksgiving, complete with a racking cough that I just couldn't shake. After a full 9 days of that, I hurt my back during a coughing fit. And then, for good measure, Kyle somehow came down with an awful stomach bug. I didn't sleep at all that night, between worrying about him, about whether my own sickness was turning into something worse or if I would get the stomach bug, and about whether we could keep the germs away from Collin. I formed a disinfecting strategy.
Sometimes when these perfect storms blow up in which too much happens at once and I feel like options are running out and that one more bad thing would be the proverbial last straw, I get what I call PPD flashbacks. It's like my body and/or brain remembers again what it's like to be paralyzed by fear, so it throws in some symptoms to make things more realistic: weakness, exhaustion, loss of appetite, etc. My vision gets clouded by 'what if?'s and my sleep is full of dreams that happen in deep water. I have to treat it kind of like a major flu (lots of rest, liquids, good food) plus a regular dose of talking, reasoning, praying, and just waiting for more time to pass between the present moment and the day(s) that started the whole thing off. THANK GOD my mom was able to come help us with Collin for the week so that I could concentrate on getting well.
And somewhere in the middle of all this, I evidently had my 31st birthday.